Omnichannel marketing automation is a term that seems to be popping up everywhere these days. But with all the industry jargon floating around, you may find yourself wondering exactly what it means. Never fear! We’re about to break down for you what an effective omnichannel marketing automation strategy looks like and how you can make it work to increase revenue for your business.

Omnichannel Definition

The term omnichannel simply indicates a cross-channel content strategy that organizations use to improve their user experience. Rather than working independently, with omnichannel marketing automation, communication channels are designed to work together so that the experience of engaging across all the channels is more efficient and pleasant than using single channels in isolation.

Omnichannel’s origins date back to 2003, when Best Buy created a new approach that centered around the customer, both in-store and online, along with providing post-sales support. According to Wikipedia, they created a “seamless and effortless high-quality customer experience” that is now referred to as omnichannel.

But then, what exactly is omnichannel marketing automation? You’re about to find out! In this blog, we’ll cover both what omnichannel marketing automation is — and what it isn’t. We’ll also show you how it works and will leave you with a few simple tips to help you get started on your own omnichannel marketing strategy.

Omnichannel marketing automation for beginners

Sometimes spelled as omni-channel, omnichannel marketing is a relatively new term that is not yet even in the dictionary. It has come to convey a necessary shift in how marketers look at reaching out to their customers. In its simplest form, it is a marketing strategy that puts the customer at the center of all campaign activity rather than the brand or the message.

In a white paper from Emarsys, omnichannel marketing is defined as “an approach in which brands combine all the channels they offer to consumers, both offline and online, into one cohesive strategy.”

TechTarget defines omnichannel marketing as “a multichannel approach to sales that seeks to provide customers with a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a brick-and-mortar store.”

One thing is for sure: an omnichannel marketing strategy focuses on the customer’s journey and meeting that customer, in real-time, at each touchpoint along that journey. Omnichannel marketing automation is simply the act of automating that process.

Rather than operating multiple channels in an attempt to “catch” the customer wherever they are, omnichannel marketing recognizes that the customer may start their journey on one channel, such as a brick-and-mortar store, then jump to social media and then finally make the purchase on the store’s website.

For example, a customer hears about a new boot brand from a friend, so she goes to the store. She doesn’t find what she is looking for, so she jumps on Facebook to find a picture her friend had shared. She then leaves the store and goes about her day.

However, the next time she logs into Facebook, she comes across an ad in her feed about that very same boot. She clicks on it, landing on the store website. She then finally purchases the boots.

The brand experience consumers have come to expect

An omnichannel marketing strategy creates a unified message across all channels. This means marketers must design their campaign processes to be interconnected, integrated and accommodating. All channels are reflective of each other and respond to the customer’s actions in a cohesive manner, regardless of which channel the customer last used.

If a customer starts a purchase on a store website but then abandons the cart, the mobile app will recognize that fact and automatically carry out the next level of engagement.

Omnichannel marketing automation allows customers to receive timely content in a personalized way based on where they are in the customer journey. This means the customer feels they’re being treated less like a sales target and more like a “real live person.”

A unified message across all channels

Each channel in an omnichannel marketing strategy must convey its own unique message relative to the nature of the channel itself. Still, it must also tie into the overall brand message. In this way, omnichannel marketing automation creates a unified message across all channels.

It also allows brands to maximize engagement across all channels and tailor strategies to target individuals based on the actions they’ve already taken. Marketing automation also enables brands to collect data from such actions. These brands can then create campaigns that combine email, text messages and social ads to reach out and target these individuals at each point in their journey.

Omnichannel marketing isn’t multi-channel marketing

Though often confused, omnichannel marketing and multi-channel marketing are similar terms with very different meanings.

Multi-channel marketing does not put the customer at the center of all marketing efforts but instead puts the brand at the center. It involves more than one channel, yes, and sells the same product on each channel, but the channels do not work together cohesively.

Instead, each channel broadcasts a different message and operates independently from the others. With multi-channel marketing, a customer cannot start a purchase on a website and finish it up on an app.

With omnichannel marketing, the message changes and adapts based on how the customer has interacted with the various channels. However, with a multi-channel marketing approach, the message never changes.

Today’s consumer wants a seamless and integrated shopping experience and omnichannel marketing automation gives your consumers what they want.

How does omnichannel marketing automation strategy work?

An Omnichannel marketing strategy will maximize engagement across all channels. Marketing technology now makes it easy for brands to manage all facets of their marketing strategy on a single platform.

Omnichannel marketing allows brands to react immediately

The customer journey is not a linear one. Potential customers can enter the buyer’s journey from many different points, sometimes at the same time. They can also easily leave one channel and hop on another one. Automation platforms enable brands to reach out to consumers at each point of their journey.

The browsing phase

Imagine a consumer having a cup of coffee in the morning and browsing his mobile device for a new computer. He’s just researching at this point, checking out what the market has to offer.

The computer brand’s marketing automation platform triggers messaging that displays content related to the products already viewed. So, when he hops onto his favorite social media channel later in the day, he’ll see targeted offers specifically tailored to him regarding the computer he was considering.

He might then “like” a brand on social media and begin following it, initiating more tailored messages orchestrated by the brand’s marketing automation platform.

Say he finds something he likes and adds it to his cart. But for whatever reason, he doesn’t complete the purchase. This would then trigger the company’s marketing automation platform to send a message encouraging him to come back and complete his purchase.

The format of the message would be tailored to whatever channel he is currently using — email, text, or social media. He gets the message, goes back and completes his purchase.

The sale is complete, but the marketing automation platform is not finished yet. After his purchase, another sequence is triggered, implementing retention strategies that ultimately lead to yet another purchase.

And a very happy, loyal customer.

Getting started

When it comes to getting started with any new marketing venture, it’s best to start by analyzing the customer data you currently have and learning as much as you can about who your customer is and where they come into contact with your business, your product(s), and your competitors.

Then, use that data to create a ‘jumping-off point’ for your marketing strategy.

Omnichannel marketing works

While effective, single-channel marketing can only get you so far. Omnichannel marketing campaigns have a 250% higher purchase and engagement rate than single-channel campaigns, with a 30% higher lifetime value.And what that comes down to is this: marketing automation makes it possible to build relationships with your customers, and omnichannel marketing automation makes it possible to build fuller, lasting relationships with your customers.